Today in the Americas, Antonio Prohías

prohibas-spy-v-spy

It was 11 years ago today that Antonio Prohías passed away. A Cuban-born cartoonist, he is best known, rightfully, for his classic comic Spy. vs. Spy.

Prohías was born in 1921. He began working for papers in the 1940s, living through the Cuban Revolution in 1959. By this time Prohías was president of the Association of Cuban Cartoonists. In 1960, Castro took over El Mundo and Prohías left Cuba for New York, with no money, where he found himself allied with MAD magazine. It was here that he began his most famous work – Spy vs. Spy – of which he published nearly 270 strips with MAD over the years until he retired in 1990.

Spy vs. Spy is a comic much celebrated in the United States. As a child, I’d seen the comics but I could never know the intricacies involved. Culturally, the strip is now seen as a symbol of the Cold War. Some felt that the comic was a sly attack on Castro. Others felt like Prohías was aiming his sights higher. That is for us to judge.

Briefly, the comic is about two spies, Black and White, and their war against one another. As I mentioned, Spy vs. Spy is an institution and his characters are still recognizable everywhere one goes. Six original copies of the strip have been collected in the Archives of American Art. It has spawned many commercials and videogames over the years. The comic is still drawn today (now by Peter Kuper) and appears monthly in MAD. Prohías names still appears, however, at the bottom of the comic in his classic Morse code: -••• -•– •–• •-• — •••• •• •- •••.

Original Spy v. Spy 1961

Original Spy v. Spy 1961

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spy-v-spy-5

spy-v-spy-1

spy-v-spy-3

spy-v-spy-4

Prohías died today in 1998, he is buried in Miami.

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~ by Daniel on February 24, 2009.

One Response to “Today in the Americas, Antonio Prohías”

  1. Nice. Great artist. Mad TV carried on the tradition pretty well.

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